Author Archives: Mark Baker

About Mark Baker

I am an aspiring novelist and former technical writer and content strategist. On the technical side, I am the author of Every Page is Page One: Topic-based Writing for Technical Communication and the Web and Structured Writing: Rhetoric and Process. I blog at everypageispageone.com and tweet as @mbakeranalecta.

Time to move to multi-sourcing

Single sourcing has been the watchword of technical communication for the last several decades. We have never fully made it work. A pair of seminal posts by prominent members of the community give me cause to hope that we may be ready to move past it. Single sourcing is about the relationship between sources and… Read More »

Chatbots are not the future of Technical Communication

And suddenly every tech comm and content strategy conference seems to be about getting your content ready for chatbots. Makes sense if you are a conference organizer. Chatbots are sexy and sex sells, even if the definition of sexy is a grey box with a speaker sitting on the counter. But chatbots are not the… Read More »

The incomplete bridge

In the Top Gear Patagonia Special, the presenters come upon an incomplete bridge and have to construct a ramp to get their cars across. This is a great metaphor for technical communication, and, indeed, communication of all kinds: the incomplete bridge. Technical communication is often described as a bridge between the expert and the user.… Read More »

DocBook resurgent: what it tells us about structured writing and component content management

A new XML-based content management system that is not based on DITA. Bet you didn’t see that coming. But I think it tells us something interesting about the two sides of structured writing. Tom Johnson’s recent sponsored post explains the origins of Paligo, a relatively new CCMS out of Sweden. Paligo was developed by a company… Read More »

Another demonstration that language is stories

Sam Jackson makes it look easy, but Siri and her cohorts are still pretty dumb. If experience alone does not illustrate this to your satisfaction, a recent article in the MIT Technology Review, Tougher Turing Test Exposes Chatbots’ Stupidity, shows just how low their success rate is in understanding real language. The Winograd Schema Challenge asks… Read More »

Affordances are relative

Affordances, those features of a product that help you figure out how to use it, are relative. Most of the busses in the Kitchener-Waterloo region have rear doors that open when you wave your hand in front of them. The one I took downtown this morning must have been an older model because it just had… Read More »

Why we need constrainable lightweight markup languages

This post is in response to a Twitter conversation that started with:   “Why You Shouldn’t Use “Markdown” for Documentation” by @ericholscher:https://t.co/lZYz8u0dKN@mbakeranalecta #TechComm #XML #markdown — Stefan Gentz (@stefangentz) June 3, 2016 This led to a discussion about extensibility and constraints in markup languages. Markdown is a pretty simple lightweight markup language (and popular for… Read More »

Can Content be Engineered; Can Writers be Certified?

tl;dr: We can apply engineering methods to content development, but we do not have the body of proven algorithms or known-good data to justify formal certification of communication professionals the way we have for doctors and engineers. We talk about content engineering. I call myself a content engineer sometimes. But can content really be engineered? Is… Read More »